The Wall Street Journal Printed This On Getting to Decision Makers? Really?

in Prospecting

First, let me go on the record with this: I love the Wall Street Journal. I’ve been a subscriber for years to both the print and online versions, and when I don’t get to them daily I stack them up and do a marathon reading session when I have time. It’s the best paper being published, not only for business news, but lifestyle, entertainment, and their sports are great.

OK, enough of a lovefest. They aren’t perfect. Case in point is this article: "How to Get Face Time With Sales Prospects."

The article is by Mike Michalowicz, author of "The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur," and also as I found out, has a very informative and entertaining small business blog,

But, he’s out of his league on this one. The gist of his advice on how to get time with a sales prospect is, ask for their advice. That’s right, don’t come across as sounding like a salesperson (which of course is correct), and just tell them you’re looking to improve your product and/or service and would like 15 minutes of their time and buy them a coffee.

Huh? Oh yeah, busy decision makers who don’t have time for all of their own work that is piling up by the second will be happy to travel to a coffee shop and dispense free advice. 

He’s right in the beginning of his article, in that decision makers don’t like cold calls. And that if you can get a referral, do so. But, the best way to get a decision maker to agree to even spend time with you beyond the first 10 seconds, if they did not contact you and don’t know you, is through a Smart Call.

I do applaud Mr. Michalowicz though… he was able to get an article in the Wall Street Journal, and get other people talking about it. That’s probably in his section on PR and Marketing.

Your thoughts on this article and technique? Please comment below.


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Harrison Greene July 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

What would you expect from a Toilet Paper Entrepreneur?


Wendell July 7, 2011 at 2:01 am

this is my first time posting here.

i’m a huge fan of your smart call approach and i totally agree that it’s probably the best way to connect with a decision maker. i use the technique every day and it works.

i’m open to any idea but i too see an issue with asking a decision maker for advice. you never know, maybe someone “bites” on that strategy; i just can’t see that person buying the product/service.

keep up the great work with your blog art…


Coach Jim Hughes April 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm


Thanks for pickiing this out. Let’s not throw the baby out with thte bathwater though. I have used this idea on many occasiions where it works. However, it was never a cold call, and it was never to someone I didn’t know. I have used it with many people who were my previous mentors, peers, and people that worked for me who have done well.

In part I use it for gettiing real ideas, I use it to market, I use it to test with their organization etc…..

It works many times, but in a select group of prospects.



Tom April 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Art, I love your articles and books – years ago I was sold on the value you present when I first got into sales and found “Telephone Tips that Sell,” you know your stuff!

So why you were not the person writing that article in the Times is beyond me.

When it’s so tough to even get a prospect on the phone, and get them past the first 10 seconds, to even have the chance to learn about the areas of their business you can help with, I find it HIGHLY unlikely that they’d spend their time to help you improve yours.

It completely misses the agenda that you really want to address, and even if you could get that time, feels like a bait and switch.


Tom April 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

How did I end up thinking a year old column was new? Twitter tricked me! Thanks for all the great info Art, keep it up!


Melissa H. April 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I find it offensive IF it’s not authentic AND opportunitisic. And that my friend is rare.I’ve done it when I am find there is nothing there for a business fit but connected on a human level. I get approached all day long with e-mails and calls for my company and call people out when they play the game “I’m really not trying to sell to you”. I am not offended if people try to sell to me, in fact, I will direct them to the right person if there is even a remote possibility of their product being of benefit. I find also, I get a great response most of the time when I say straight up on my cold calls “Yes, I am trying to sell you something” (using to the technical contact who find this very refreshing, forwards me most times) and “I am trying to see if my products could benefit your company, do you know who I might talk to in the xyz position?”

I wrote a novel since this is a sore spot for me. I guess the author’s mileage varies and he has great success. Maybe he personally has an extremely charismatic personality, more than mine, and can get away with advice asking as selling.


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